Oklahoma Children’s Hospital announced Tuesday it is planning to halt “certain gender medicine services” in order to keep funding for its new pediatric mental health facility.
“The Legislature restricted the use of the funds from benefitting facilities performing certain gender medicine services. The new mental and behavioral health facility was never intended to provide such care. The OU Health Senior Leadership team is proactively planning the ceasing of certain gender medicine services across our facilities and that plan is already under development,” OU Health said in a statement.
Oklahoma Children’s is part of OU Health, the University of Oklahoma’s health system.
The hospital was poised to lose $39.4 million in American Rescue Plan funds thanks to a bill, House Bill 1007, requiring the hospital to stop offering gender surgeries in order to keep the funding.
Oklahoma Republicans said they wanted to give the money to OU Health for its new pediatric mental health hospital, but the money cannot go toward “gender reassignment medical treatment” for minors, including interventions to suppress the development of secondary sex characteristics or to “align the patient’s appearance or physical body with the patient’s gender identity.”
Oklahoma Children’s Hospital currently offers a variety of different gender services, including “pausing puberty,” “managing gender-affirming hormone therapy,” and “helping find surgeons who perform gender-affirming surgeries,” according to its website.
State Republican Rep. Randy Randleman emphasized that behavioral health is the priority right now.
“It’s not cutting anybody out for services. It’s saying we have such a need for behavior problems and families being dysfunctional that we want this individual money to be focused on that to get us back to where we should be,” Randleman told KOCO 5 on Tuesday.
Another state Republican lawmaker, Rep. Kevin West, who represents Oklahoma City, vehemently defended the bill.
“I’m thankful for language in this bill that protects children from the practice of mutilation through gender reassignment medical treatment,” West said. “This unbelievably harmful practice cannot be reversed, and has lasting physical and psychological consequences that can damage these children for the rest of their lives.”
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma slammed the state’s move.
“Legislatures seem to believe that the health care and mental health of trans and 2SLGBTQ-plus youth is essentially a bargaining chip they can use,” said Cindy Nguyen, policy director at ACLU of Oklahoma.
Several children’s hospitals across the country are under fire for providing gender surgery for minors.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) performs “gender-affirming” double mastectomies on minor girls and offers puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors, according to an exposé from Daily Wire host Matt Walsh.
The practice came under fire after shocking videos showed a Vanderbilt doctor calling certain transgender surgeries “huge money makers.” In another video, a Vanderbilt health law expert called conscientious objections to transgender surgeries “problematic.”
Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center for Gender Surgery offers chest gender surgery with parental consent for girls 15 and up who identify as male.